Age: 62

Family: Married 35 years to Lisa; adult children: Ellie, Mitch, Layne

Occupation: Retired; 22 Years Alliant Energy manager environmental planning and sustainability strategy

Lived in the district since: 1995

Political experience: Stoughton Area School District Board of Education (2017-current)

Notable affiliations: Stoughton Area Dems and Progressives

Why are you running to represent the Stoughton Area School District?

I believe that strong public schools are important for our community and I want students and staff to be successful here. As an incumbent, I’ve helped to improve how the board does its work (ex., transparency, leadership, and governance) which benefits the district; I’d like to continue that work.

What’s the district’s next big challenge/opportunity?

We must figure out a path that keeps strong educational programs in place across the district despite forecasted budget shortfalls.

What accomplishment are you most proud of during your time on the board?

I am proud to have supported removing restrictions put in place by previous board leadership with respect to the district compensation plan. This resulted in an improved plan that doesn’t pit educators against each other to prove they are able to “level up” to the next salary range. I’m also proud of supporting our local school bus drivers, making positive changes to our health insurance plan, starting the Board Scholarship, helping to create goals and expectations as part of the strategic plan, creating an equity statement, and all-around support to student social and emotional wellness.

What can the school board do to stop the district’s enrollment decline?

We can improve on telling the story of excellence that takes place in our district every day. We must continue to support strong curriculum and expectations. We need to work closely with the City on a vision that brings and keeps young families to the area.

If cuts have to be made in the budget in coming years, what are the top priorities to protect?

I believe we need to keep all options open, with a proclivity toward keeping strong academics and the arts; weakening these will lead to less interest in the district. In reality, every department will likely need to produce reductions and tough decisions around possible school reconfiguration may be needed.

Do you support the district holding another operations referendum when the budget becomes untenable?

Yes. I believe we should be working now to better understand future budgets, and the budgeting process to demonstrate to the community that we are doing our part ahead of a possible referendum vote. We must continue to communicate to the community and solicit feedback.

Has the district done enough to ensure its schools are safe?

SASD has implemented physical and operational changes to make schools safer; more is in the works. We are also doing a lot for student emotional wellness. However, data shows bullying and harassment continue — we need to improve on this to ensure all students have a safe place to learn.

Email Unified Newspaper Group reporter Scott De Laruelle at scott.delaruelle@wcinet.com.